Jason Cummings today vowed “I’m back for good” after starting his first match in two months, the Hibs striker admitting he’d found being dropped for the first time in his career a chastening experience.
Although he had started the season by scoring eight goals in his first six Championship matches, the 21-year-old conceded his form had dipped and boss Neil Lennon was right to sideline him. But having enjoyed being part of the starting line-up for the first time since the beginning of October as Hibs bounced back from losing to title rivals Dundee United by defeating Dumbarton 2-0, Cummings is determined to hold on to his place.
He said: “I was delighted to be back amongst it. I was missing it. I didn’t realise how much I actually missed it and took it for granted. Now that I’m back in I just want to stay in because it’s a good team to be playing in.”
Cummings revealed he had been taken aback at being dropped but addedd: “I hadn’t scored in the last few games and I wasn’t playing that well so the manager has the right to try someone else.
“The boys kept me out of the team for a good six weeks. Players like Martin Boyle came in and took their chance. They played well and I couldn’t really ask questions.
“It had never really happened to me in my career so it was a wee bit different. But it happens to every player, the top players as well. It’s ups and downs and I’ve not really got any complaints about it.
“The manager didn’t say ‘you’re dropped because you can’t finish’ or ‘you can’t do that’. It’s just phases. Every player has his ups and downs. I don’t think there is anything I could do about it, it just happened.”
Even so, Cummings said he had been stunned to find himself on the bench. “I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt. You feel that you are missing out. You’re coming in every weekend and not playing or just playing ten minutes and you don’t really feel a part of it.
“I took it for granted when I was playing week in, week out for the last few years but if anything it has given me more hunger to stay in the team.”
Cummings agreed he hit his lowest point when he was sent off while playing for Hibs Under-20s, shown the red card for a verbal volley at an assistant referee which earned him a fine.
He said: “It was just that wee bit of frustration going from playing every week and scoring all those goals to be playing for the 20s on a Tuesday. But I spoke to people around me who picked me up and got me going again.
“I never sulked about what had happened, I just tried to work harder to get myself back in. It’s been a massive learning curve. It has made me more hungry. I know the demands that this gaffer expects.
“If you drop your game for a couple of games, it just proves with the squad we’ve got, someone will take your jersey from you, no problem. It’s a fight for places so you have to be on your best game every week.
“At the end of the day it’s the team that matters. The team has been playing well and have been getting three points without me so it’s not like I’ve been that bothered. It’s been a bit weird, but I’m glad to be back.”